A homegrown TV pilot has been released in time for the holidays.
“A Dealership Christmas,” which was filmed last year at Kari Toyota in Superior, dropped onto Amazon’s Prime Video platform Tuesday, Nov. 19. Featuring a host of familiar faces — half the cast and crew are from the Twin Ports area — the half-hour comedy is available to buy for $2.99 on the streaming service. On Thanksgiving, it can be rented for 99 cents.
“It’s cheaper than a Redbox,” said producer Jacey Dean of Iron River.
Dean wrote, directed and produced the show, which was inspired by the daily comedy and interesting stories she encountered working at Kari Toyota.
"There are so many funny things that happen at a dealership," said Dean, assistant business manager. “I love working here.”
Dean’s production company, Hollywood Rookies, filmed on location at Kari Toyota and Bentleyville last holiday season. Since then, she has spent hundreds of hours on post-production work to bring the “proof of concept pitch pilot” to the screen.
It’s funny and also touching, said Chris Kari, co-owner of the business.
“If you have time, it’s a neat short film,” he said.
Kari and his family are among the extras in the opening scene, which winds through vehicles on the show floor. Theater-goers may be able to pick out local actors in the pilot, including Kathy Laakso and Emily Dahl from Time Arc Theatre as well as extras Tygen Lundgren, Kitara Peterson and Ellie Martin.
“I think it's great to have this opportunity in our community,” said Laakso, who plays the aptly named Angel in the show. “I haven't done film in many years so I enjoyed it. Jacey was very organized and good to work with. I hope she does more filming here.”
Whether “A Dealership Christmas” will develop into a full-fledged TV series depends, in part, on viewer feedback.
“Right now, what I would really, dearly love from the people of Superior is to watch it and tell me what they like the most,” Dean said. “A pilot is meant to be changed. It’s a concept and we need to know what people think. What would you like to see in the future? What made you laugh?”
The responses will help her market the comedy series to studios and gauge its potential.
“Was it just my dream, or is it something people actually want to see?” Dean said.
Although she has a concept for up to seven seasons of the series, it can’t be done as a grassroots production like the pilot. It’s taken her three and a half years and thousands of hours just to get the initial pilot on screen.
“If it’s going to be a series, it needs to get real money behind it,” Dean said.
Visit the Hollywood Rookies Facebook page for more information, links to the Amazon pilot or to add a name to the waiting list for a DVD. A limited run of “A Dealership Christmas” DVDs will be available for $6 apiece at Kari Toyota in December.